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Tinnitus Library

Ask Barry: January 2011

Do you have questions about tinnitus, our products or specific treatments? Ask Barry. Arches President Barry Keate will select the most representative questions each month publication. Regardless all questions will receive a personal reply from Barry.

ASK BARRY Tinnitus expert, Barry Keate, answers your questions about Tinnitus Send your question to:  Ask Barry

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NOTE: Ask Barry is pleased to be able to answer your questions based upon the information we have available. Our answers to your email inquiries are not substitutes for a physician's advice nor are they reviewed by a physician. If you are under a physician's care, please share with your doctor any suggestions you have received from Ask Barry.

Walking Tinnitus?
Dear Barry,
I have severe tinnitus for 9 months, out of work because of it. One thing however, my tinnitus goes completely away when I wake up but once I start to walk comes back. I notice that sugar in foods really increase the ringing. Also I cannot take any vitamins or herbs, increases my ringing. Everything from B-12 to ginkgo to all tinnitus formulas including yours increases my ringing. Any thoughts?
Thanks
Greg
Dear Greg,
You most likely have a condition that is known as somatic tinnitus. We will publish an article on this in the January, 2011 newsletter but I believe you need an answer earlier than that.
Somatic tinnitus occurs when signals from the sensory system of the body interfere with auditory signals from the cochlea. Nerves carrying these signals are very close together in a relay area of the brain known as the Dorsal Cochlear Nucleus (DCN). If there is damage to the DCN, there can be cross-talk between the signals. The initial damage could have been a blow to the head or the Tempero-Mandibular Joint (TMJ), where the lower jaw hinges on the skull. Or it could have been caused by muscle spasm of the Sternocleidomastoid muscle, which is on the side of the neck and holds the head in place. It could also originate from other causes, such as grinding teeth.
What happens is the signals from the sensory system engage in cross-talk with the signals from the auditory system. This creates hyperactivity in the DCN which causes the tinnitus. When the signals are relatively quiet, like when you are resting, the tinnitus isn't there. But when you begin moving, the hyperactivity increases and the tinnitus begins. Other people may experience this in different ways. Some say they wake from a brief nap and their tinnitus is worse. Others say theirs worsens throughout the course of the day. Many people can modify their tinnitus by moving the lower jaw around.
There are treatments for this condition. Relaxation exercises and biofeedback have been shown to be very helpful. In biofeedback, you learn to control and relax muscles that you are normally unable to control. There are biofeedback centers in all major US cities.
Certain neck exercises have also been highly effective at eliminating tinnitus in some patients.
TMJ treatment, in those with TMJ dysfunction, can reduce tinnitus. A dentist trained in TMJ dysfunction can determine if this is the cause. Click on the link above to find a TMJ specialist in your area .
Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) has been shown in one small clinical study to improve tinnitus in 46% of patients. In fact, 23% did not hear tinnitus any longer and another 23% had it reduced significantly. TENS units generate an electrical current between two of its electrodes and help reduce the cross-talk in the DCN. The units are portable and usually cost under $100 but can only be used under the supervision of a doctor.
There are a lot of avenues to pursue here. I would consult a TMJ specialist to determine if that is the cause. You can also begin biofeedback to learn to relax head and neck muscles. And you can consult with a doctor, perhaps an osteopathic physician, about neck exercises and TENS units.
Wishing you quiet times,
Barry Keate
Whiplash and Tinnitus
Dear Barry,
I first got tinnitus, suddenly, with no known cause, almost exactly a year ago. I went through, perhaps, even a more pronounced suicidal depression than the typical sufferer. Finally I found your product. After about six weeks on the Tinnitus Formula, I thought I could detect a change. After twelve weeks on the Formula and three weeks on L-Theanine, I experienced a definite volume decrease. (Thank you for introducing me to L-Theanine.) The tinnitus improvement in fact continued, until I was down to one sound, a hiss. At last, I should be able to read with concentration and resume my work as a writer, even with the windows closed for winter. Then came the car crash.
Ten days ago, a car ran a red light and smashed into mine on the driver's side. In that elongated second, I watched the car come, then watched, as if from outside, my neck and back whip violently to the right then back again, I actually thought 'This is the worst thing that could possibly happen to my tinnitus.' I knew that many people first experience tinnitus after a whiplash injury.
I am even more depressed than I was a year ago. I wonder if there is any chance that the proliferation of sounds (some not heard for months, some completely new) and the volume that keeps me awake in the middle of the night will subside, perhaps a transitory result of physical and psychical trauma rather than a permanent result of neck injury? Also, I am wonder if osteopathic or chiropractic manipulation is helpful. I know the latter can cause tinnitus if over-enthusiastic. On the other hand, a neurologist's article I snipped out of the ATA publication points to the connection of nerves in the neck to the brain, and says gentle manipulation might be of assistance. Have you any views on these kinds of treatment?
Thank you for both your product and the sense of empathy I always get from you and your entire website.
Sincerely,
Maggie K.
Dear Maggie,
I'm terribly sorry this happened to you; what a calamity. I don't know much about whiplash but a brief internet search turned up some therapeutic options. Heat therapy and cold therapy are very helpful, as is massage. All the information I found indicate that recovery does happen with therapy so I would think your worsened condition will be temporary. I recommend you consult with an osteopathic physician to learn more about possible treatments.
Whiplash can also be the cause of Somatic Tinnitus, the subject of this month’s article. Does your tinnitus very with the position of the head, neck or jaw? If so, please see this article.
One thing I do know is that in Germany, they treat whiplash with Ginkgo biloba! Claus F. Claussen is Professor of Neurotology at Wurzburg University in Germany. He works with whiplash patients and those with tinnitus. He treats both with an IV of Ginkgo biloba. The fact that you are already using Arches Tinnitus Formula, with ginkgo, should be protective to some extent. Please stay with it.
I have recently found a product that may help with the pain in your back and neck. It's called Capzacin-HP and can be found in most pharmacies like CVS and Walgreens. The active ingredient is Capsaicin 0.1%. Capsaicin is extracted from chili peppers and is what makes them hot. Capzacin is not a pain killer, like NSAID medications, and doesn't have any side effects. It is a cream that you rub into the muscles. What it does is increase circulation and rush blood to the muscles where it is applied. You feel a burning sensation for a few minutes. It promotes healing in the muscles and is very effective. I was told about it by a pharmacist when I had bad inflammation in a shoulder muscle. It was amazing! Within 3 days the inflammation was almost totally gone and with it the pain. I hope it will be helpful for you as well.
Wishing you quiet times,
Barry Keate
Overactive Thyroid and Tinnitus
Dear Barry,
I have an overactive thyroid . I am not on medication yet because it is still sub-clinical. I see a specialist for blood work every six months. Ginkgo seems to make me hyper, and I already take the other supplements in your formulas. I don't want to take an overdose; I also take a multi-pack vitamin. I have been suffering with tinnitus for over 15 years . It has gotten progressively worse. A $2,500.00 hearing aid just made things worse. Do you have any suggestions Barry? Thank you for all you do.
Sincerely,
Bob R.
Dear Bob,
You may want to try L-Theanine, a precursor to Gamma-Amino Butyric Acid (GABA). GABA has long been known to have a central role in the origin of tinnitus. It is a neurotransmitter in the brain that inhibits electrical activity. Too little GABA allows for neuronal excitation that can cause or exacerbate tinnitus. This may be especially true since your thyroid is hyperactive. An article on this can be seen at
You can purchase GABA in health food stores. However the molecule is large and has difficulty passing the blood-brain barrier. L-Theanine is a precursor that can cross the barrier and produce GABA in the brain. Typical dosage is about 150-200 mg taken 2-3 times daily. This may produce some grogginess so be careful driving or operating equipment until you see how you react to it. I hope this is helpful. Please let me know how it works for you.
Wishing you quiet times,
Barry Keate